By Chris Edmonds
Wouldn’t you love to have a team made up of your top players – people that show up happy and ready, love working with teammates, and serve customers beautifully?
Today, you likely have some team members that behave that way. Probably not all of them do. Why do some team members show up with lousy attitudes, create more friction than cooperation, or withhold information to make themselves look good while inhibiting others’ success?
You attempt to redirect these undesirable behaviors. It’s typically a constant battle. You never know what to expect each day – and you’re on edge, waiting for the “other shoe to drop.”
You’ve worked on great teams in the past – teams where everyone was focused on customer service, on cooperative interaction, on working together to solve problems that arise.
What results would you expect if you had that kind of an aligned team? You’d love the increased customer service experiences, the proactive problem solving, greater sales and profits – and engaged, delighted team members.
How can you make every player an engaged, dedicated team member and contributor? How can you clone your benchmark stars?
By making values – citizenship and teamwork – as important as results. By changing the rules so that everyone performs consistently while treating others with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction.
Don’t get me wrong – results are really important. Results help keep the doors open, bring in enthusiastic customers, and sustain your ability to deliver needed products and service, help employees provide for themselves and their loved ones, etc.
But managing results is only half the leader’s job. The other half is managing the quality of your work culture.
In fact, when small business owners make values as important as results, performance improves! By 30 percent, 40 percent, and more . Why? Because people feel valued. They feel trusted. Work is a calm, fun, inspiring place to hang out. Their peers “have their back.” So, they can focus on service and productivity.
To create a purposeful, positive, productive work culture, leaders must do three things. First, they must define their desired culture. Second, they must align all plans, decisions, and actions to that desired culture. Finally, they must refine their culture over time, as it evolves.
Defining your organizational culture is easy with an organizational constitution. An organizational constitution is a formal document that specifies your company’s servant purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals.
You likely have some form of strategies and goals – those are the foundation for your company’s results. You might even have a mission or vision statement – possibly even values – in place.
A servant purpose is a present day “reason for being” for your company, besides making money. It is a statement that outlines who you serve, how you serve those customers, and to what end – how your company improves your customers’ quality of life.
This statement provides meaningful context for the work – a service context that can inspire team members, even when it’s hectic.
It’s a bit more involved to make values as measurable as results. That requires spending time defining values in observable, tangible, measurable terms. You might identify 3-4 values you want lived in your culture. For each of those values, you’ll specify 3-4 behaviors that describe how you expect leaders and team members to model that value.
For example, with an integrity value, you might decide on a behavior that reads, “I keep my promises” or “If I expect to miss a commitment, I fully inform my colleagues in advance so we can minimize disruptions.” Those behaviors are measurable – you can rate me on the degree to which I demonstrate those behaviors.
These behavioral descriptions make values as measurable as results. Just as you have formalized performance expectations, these valued behaviors become “citizenship” expectations, for everyone.
Creating your organizational constitution will take a few months. You’ll engage leaders and team members in drafts of these agreements. Once you publish your organizational constitution, the fun part begins: alignment.
Alignment starts at the top. Senior leaders must demonstrate desired values and behaviors in every interaction. That’s the only way for the change to gain credibility. As leaders model your values and behaviors, team members begin to understand what the culture demands – and they understand how they are supposed to behave.
Leaders must not only live the valued behaviors but praise team members’ aligned behavior and redirect misaligned behavior – every day.
Alignment creates “clones” of your benchmark stars. Alignment helps you coach to the standards – of performance and of values – that your culture requires.
Alignment takes 18-24 months of steady encouragement, modeling, coaching, redirection, hiring, etc.
Refinement happens every two years or so. Your servant purpose won’t change, nor will your values change. You might update some valued behaviors. You’ll definitely update your strategies and goals.
By taking this approach, you’ll specify your desired culture, model your desired culture, and align people to your desired culture.
Don’t leave your culture to chance. Create a purposeful, positive, productive culture with an organizational constitution.
Chris Edmonds is a speaker, author, and executive consultant who is the founder of The Purposeful Culture Group. He’s one of Inc. Magazine’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers and was a featured presenter at SXSW 2015. He tweets on organizational culture, servant leadership, and workplace inspiration at @scedmonds.